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Press Release

 
U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Geological Survey
National Wetlands Research Center
700 Cajundome Blvd.
Lafayette, LA 70506

Contact: Gabrielle Boudreaux Bodin
Phone: 337-266-8655
Fax: 337-266-8541
For Release: May 23, 2007



USGS National Wetlands Research Center Prepares for 2007 Hurricane Season

Hurricane Drill.  The USGS National Wetlands Research Center (NWRC), located in Lafayette, La., with field stations along the Gulf of Mexico, began hurricane preparedness with a mock hurricane drill in May that included not only possible staff evacuation, but also scientific response.  Joining in the hurricane drill was the USGS Water Science Center staff as well as observers from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Louisiana and Texas. 

Science Response Vehicle. In addition to planning for people, NWRC  plans for immediate scientific response, including that of “geoaddressing” of 911 calls, which it performed after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and which  merited the Louisiana hurricane team a Service to America Medal.  This drill involved using  NWRC’s Science Response Vehicle, which can be immediately deployed to hurricane sites along the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coasts to help in mapping 911 calls and critical infrastructure, such as levee breaks, bridges, and pumping stations as well as testing water-quality samples.  The vehicle serves as an outside laboratory, facilitating collection and processing of field samples on site; providing critical communication via the Internet when other sources fail; receiving weather and emergency information; and providing living quarters for response personnel.

Databases for Hurricane Response. Also, NWRC is developing a special Web site and databases to accumulate biological and other data along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts from Federal and State sources that can be accessed immediately for scientific response.  Among these databases are NWRC’s own large spatial databases, including more than 70 years of wetland change data.  After the hurricanes of 2005, NWRC analysis showed an immediate loss of 217 square miles of coastal land. These findings are being updated each growing season to evaluate broad-scale coastal recovery.

On-going Hurricane Research.  On-going scientific research at NWRC related to hurricanes includes (1) radar-tracking of migratory birds during the fall migration period to assess possible effects of hurricanes on migration patterns; (2) studying global climate change and effects of sea-level rise on coastal wetlands and forests;  (3) predicting the persistence of coastal wetlands to global climate change effects, including effects of altered temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide;  (4) biogenic accretion through surface-root production in coastal wetlands and implications for elevation change relative to sea-level rise; (5) tracking and visualization of coastal restoration projects; (6) hurricane modeling including models of spread of invasive species via hurricane-force winds.

Web Sites and Publications.   Hurricane information can be found at several NWRC-related Web sites including, www.nwrc.usgs.gov and www.lacoast.gov  as well as a National Biological Information Infrastructure portal.  Finally, NWRC will be publishing in 2007 a USGS Circular designed for the general public entitled Science and the Storms: The USGS Response to the Hurricanes of 2005, a compilation of 37 articles describing how USGS nationwide used its biological, geological, hydrological, and geographical disciplines to study Hurricanes Dennis, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma.


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